Government measures to help protect your bricks and mortar business in turbulent times

The government have issued a number of financial measures to help bricks and mortar businesses through these turbulent times. To help you understand how these tax and financial measures might impact you, we have created this summary for you.

 If you are in financial distress due to COVID-19 you can call the new HMRC COVID-19 helpline – Tel: 0800 024 1222 

 Bookmark this page and check back regularly.

Interest Rates

On 19 March 2020 the Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.1%, having previously reduced them to 0.25% on the day of the Spring Budget. 

Mortgage Holidays

All UK mortgage holders can apply for a 3 month mortgage holiday IF they are adversely affected by COVID-19.

Call your mortgage provider and ask for the holiday if you believe you are going to be adversely impacted.

Many lenders have texted their customers and asked that they don't call them, but apply online.

After the 3 month payment holiday, you will see a small uplift in your monthly repayment as the unpaid repayment is added to the remaining balance of your loan. 



Time To Pay Arrangements

Generous time to pay arrangements on current tax arrears

Do call HMRC, but expect to sit on hold, they have a huge rise in calls and a lot off staff off or self isolating. Be patient!

Companies House Filing Deadlines

3 month filing extension for company accounts announced by HMRC for those who might struggle to meet their filing deadline due to COVID-19.

  • As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension.
  • Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.
  • The application must be made before the original filing date has passed.

Rates Relief

To the dismay/anger/outrage of many a small business rates payer - rates relief is offered to a limited few industries and many small businesses have been forced to close with limited support to pay their bills. The list of exceptions is long, but I suspect it will get a lot shorter in the coming weeks.

  • All hospitality, leisure and retail venues in England, regardless of rateable value, can claim a 100% discount on business rates for 12 months from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
  • Unoccupied properties that become vacant in the next 12 months will be charged 100% full rates from three months after they become empty.

Updates from 24 March 2020

  • Fuller detail of the retail, hospitality and leisure grant (RHLG) fund has been published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The guidance document, intended to help local authorities administer the scheme, is available on the Government website.
  • Payments will be made to the person listed in local authority’s records as the ratepayer for the business premises on 11 March 2020.
  • There is a strong warning against fraudulent claims with a promise of prosecution and clawback for any such payments.
  • Certain premises are excluded on the grounds of private use, such as private stables and beach huts. Car parks and parking spaces are also ineligible.
  • Businesses in liquidation or dissolved as of 11 March aren’t eligible either.
  • What next? The discount will be applied automatically to the next council tax bill, due in April 2020.


Small Business Grant Scheme

  • Businesses in England eligible for small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) will receive a one-off cash grant of £10,000.
  • Payable to all businesses who received a rates bill, even if they get full relief
  • What next? Letters are being issued this week to businesses where the local authorities have identified them as eligible.
  • Unfortunately, the letters are being sent to the registered property which in many cases is empty because staff are working from home!
  • Talk to your accountant who will be able to tell if you are eligible.

14 Day SSP

  • Small-and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • The refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP for each member of staff off work because of COVID-19.
  • It applies to all UK businesses that employed fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
  • What next? Legislation needs to pass before details of how to apply can be published.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Grants of up to £2,500 per employee where those employees are unable to work (are ‘furloughed’) because of coronavirus, covering 80% of gross salary costs PLUS Employers National Insurance and Pension contributions.
  • Employers can top up wages to 100% but do not have to 
  • Intended to run for three months in the first instance with the first payments expected in early April and the scheme fully up and running by the end of that month
  • The grants will be paid via HMRC
  • All UK employers will be eligible
  • What next? The claim portal is expected to be available on Monday 20th April.

What staff can and cannot do on furlough

  • When on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.
  • Furloughed staff can work for other companies while they are furloughed so long as their employment contract allows it. So if staff want to top up their 80% salary with a part-time job at their local supermarket, they could do that without compromising their agreement with you.
  • Furloughed staff can do volunteer work or training so long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

Updates from 27 March 2020

Full guidance has now been published setting out how businesses can claim through the coronavirus job retention scheme. Some key details are as follows:

  • Only employers that created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 are eligible.
  • The scheme covers full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
  • Employees made redundant after 28 February 2020 but rehired by their employer can be furloughed.
  • Employees hired after 28 February cannot be furloughed.

Furloughing Q&A 02 April 2020

Harry and Lisa discuss the top questions asked by our clients relating to furloughing staff.

  •  Can staff work when furloughed?
  • Can Zero hours staff or variable hours staff be furloughed?
  • Can staff on SMP be furloughed?
  • Who has to fund furloughed wages?
  • How long can staff be furloughed for?
  • What happens to staff on minimum wage?


Making a claim will be via portal (open 20 Apr20)

To make a claim, employers will need to provide:

  • ePAYE reference number
  • number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period
  • amount claimed
  • bank account number and sort code
  • contact name and number.

Updates from 04 April 2020

  • The grant will be calculated based on regular, contractual pay, such as wages, compulsory commission and past overtime.
  • The calculation will not include discretionary commission (including tips) payments or bonuses, non-cash payments or benefits in kind.

Updates from 15 April 2020

Scheme updated to include PAYE payroll schemes that were started on or before 19 March 2020

Updates from 16 April 2020

Scheme extended to 30th June 2020 so claim period now covers 4 months from 1st March 2020 to 30th June 2020.

Q2 VAT Payments - Deferred

The fastest way to get cash into a small business is to defer the VAT payments.

VAT is still owed to HMRC, but not due until the end of the financial year.

Any VAT Deferred in the next 3 months, has to be repaid before 31 March 2021.

Cancel you VAT direct debit unless you do actually want to pay it! Not everyone needs to defer.

Defer if you must, move to a separate bank account and ringfence that cash.

Spend carefully and wisely.

Remember - it is still owed to HMRC.

Coronavirus Small Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Business loan scheme backed by the government to help a small business through the crisis, no interest for the first 12 months

  • Maximum turnover for eligible businesses was previously set at £41 million per year; it has now been increased to £45m.
  • The interest-free period has been increased from six months to twelve.
  • The scheme is being managed by the British Business Bank but businesses will access them via one of 40 accredited lending providers, including most major banks.
  • Online introducers like Capitalise have access to some of the accredited lenders which might make it easier to find the support you need.
  • The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5 million – higher than the £1.2m announced initially.
  • What next? Discuss business plans with existing lending providers. Loans available from Monday 23 March 2020.

Updates from 25 March 2020

The British Business Bank has published comprehensive details of how the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) can be accessed:

  • Eligibility: an SME must be UK-based with annual turnover of no more than £45m and have a proposal which would be considered viable by the lender under normal circumstances.
  • Types of finance available: Term loans, overdrafts, asset finance, invoice finance.
  • How to apply: via one of the accredited lenders on this list. In the first instance, the British Business Bank is urging businesses to apply online and asking those who don’t need emergency finance to ‘consider the urgency of your need’. More detail is available here.

Updates from 03 April 2020

 Only 1000 out of 130000 applications have been approved so far, and suggested changes have been outlined


  • Pushing borrowers towards commercial lending, many with controversially high rates from some banks, some as high as 30%
  • Requiring personal guarantees on government-backed loans which are £100,00 or higher


  • No longer restricted to those who were refused credit in the past
  • Interest rates aren't capped just yet, but this may be one to keep an ear to the ground for
  • Personal guarantees will be banned for loans up to £250,000

In order to apply for a CBILS loan, most lenders will want:

  • Last 3 years full accounts with detailed P&L
  • Last 12 months business bank statements (Lloyds Bank usually need 6 months
    personal as well)
  • Up to date management accounts
  • Aged debtor and creditor lists
  • Confirmation of any outstanding debt (provider, term, repayment)
  • Statement of personal assets, liabilities, income and expenditure from all Directors
  • Home addresses of all directors/ shareholders
  • Paragraph on how Covid-19 has affected the business and what the funds will
    specifically be used for
  • 12 month cash flow forecasts

Source: Capitalise

The above requirements will vary from lender to lender. If you do not have everything listed here, a CBILS loan could still be an option to provide finance to support your business but might take longer to approve.

Note: For many customers approaching their existing lenders for a smaller facility, the process may be automated and therefore may not require the same level of documentation.



… tumbleweeds…

Regional Variation – Scotland

The Scottish Government has published guidance on its support for businesses in Scotland, with some specific differences:

  • The threshold for £25,000 grants for small business is £18,000 rather than £15k, as in England.
  • All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get 1.6% rates relief, applied automatically.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief, as in England, also applied automatically.


Regional Variation – Wales

Guidance from the Welsh Government is also now available. One notable difference is that the threshold for the £25,000 grant payment for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses is £12,001 – lower than in England or Scotland.

Businesses in Wales can also access loan and equity funding via the Development Bank of Wales.

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